A magical journey broadens a young child's horizons in this mostly wordless import by South Korean illustrator JiHyeon Lee (Pool).
In a world of dour, gray-penciled humans trudging through life against a blank cream background, a blue-and-red insect leads a child to a mysterious key and then on to a forgotten, cobwebbed door. Curiosity trumps apprehension, and the child steps through the doorway to a brightly colored land inhabited by cheerful red creatures whose beaked heads gently evoke Tim Burton's Beetlejuice. The strangers' speech bubbles contain incomprehensible squiggles to indicate the protagonist's inability to understand their words. However, the language of kindness proves universal when a child from a family of the creatures issues an invitation to join them for a picnic and walk in the country. As they walk, the child begins slowly to take on the colored pencil hues of the pastoral landscape. Eventually, they reach a field with doors of all shapes and sizes that release various whimsical creatures into the world; everyone is gathering to celebrate the wedding of a short, hamster-like groom to a pink, antelope-horned bride. After a joyful party, the now-rosy child returns to the black-and-white world, purposely leaving the wooden door wide open.
Lee's charming use of the magic portal and the transition from a black-and-white mundane world to a colorful fantasyland recalls such favorites as The Wizard of Oz, Lewis Carroll's works and Aaron Becker's Journeyseries. The densely colored pencil drawings look fresh enough to smudge, as though a friend drew them for the reader mere moments ago. Preschoolers may find reassurance here that different can mean fun, while older readers can use Door to start discussions on diversity, inclusion and acceptance. This quiet fable feels both relevant and timeless. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services division manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library